A drug already on the market for treating overactive bladder is showing promise in helping patients lose weight and fight obesity. Before you start peppering your primary doctor with requests for mirabegron (commercial name – Mybertiq), there are some caveats.

The study showing promise was a 12-man pilot study. In it, researchers gave the 12 male volunteers four-times the recommended dose of Mybertiq. The drug targets the β3-adrenergic receptor. This receptor expresses not only in in the bladder, but also fat cells. Enter the scientists that wanted to see if the drug helped burn energy.

In all twelve volunteers, metabolic activity increased, along with calories burned. At rest, the volunteers burned an average of 200 more calories. Breaking that down in weight loss terms, the participants would shed about a pound every 2.5 weeks without additional effort. And, barring any complications. That’s important. Don’t start popping pills before checking with your doctor.

Study author Aaron Cypress, now with the National Institutes of Health, cautions this is merely a snapshot. His next research will be on dosing efficacy, and if Mybertiq (mirabegron) is effective at 12 or 24 hours.

Aaron Cypress and his team will investigate if a lower dose can activate brown fat, and burn a similar number of calories.

The whole process hinges on brown fat. Energy is stored in white fat, while brown fat burns it – normally in response to being cold. You have probably heard of the cold shower challenge, and the thought it activates burn fat. That’s the general concept here.

Study authors showed a screen of what happens when brown fat is activated with miragebron. In 2009, three research groups announced the discovery of brown fat in adults – Cypress was a member of one of those groups.

Research has exploded into brown fat as America’s obesity epidemic ramps. With more than one-third of Americans obese, ways to counter the trend are both a public health emergency and big business.

Is brown fat the answer? Not in totality. You will still have to eat healthy and exercise. What researchers want is a tool to aid in the weight-loss journey. Brown fat is useful in absorbing sugar, making lifestyle changes easier for diabetics and prediabetics.

Mybertiq may not be the answer to activate brown fat, but it is the first research to show activation without cold temperatures. More research is to follow, and expect pharmaceutical companies to start devoting more resources in this arena.

The study was published in the latest issue of Cell Metabolism.

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